PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- There has never been a better time to transition careers. From free courses to low-cost degree programs, there are new opportunities to learn and train across many industries for the future.
Eric Jefferson of Broomall, Pennsylvania, says during the pandemic he was "very stressed out and overwhelmed."
So he and his wife, Julie, quit their jobs and started their own nonprofit called Kick the Day.
Julie says it's where "kids can come and exercise and talk about wellness."
Eric also took on a new position in the software engineering field, becoming 1 in 5 US workers who've considered changing jobs or fields since the pandemic began.
Kapeesh Saraf, a career and growth expert, says there are more ways now than ever before for people to get trained and do something different.
He says, "This is the golden age of educational technology and the pandemic has accelerated trends that were already happening by four or five years."
Here are some examples:
Future Fit AI claims to be the "GPS to help workers navigate career transitions." It analyzes your skills, identifies appropriate career paths, and provides a personalized roadmap of learning programs for free.
Career Karma is like a Match.com for educational programs called boot camps and is also free to use. Its video says, "We've helped thousands of people get jobs as software engineers through coding boot camps."
Eric Jefferson says, "I did a boot camp in Wilmington, Delaware, and that's how I got my software engineering experience." He attended Zip Code Wilmington and you can, too. Applications are open for its February software development and data engineering programs.
Eric says, "It's much more rigorous because it's like a 12-week boot camp."
The price tag was $12,000 but Eric paid only $3,000. The balance was covered by the employer who hired him at the end of the program, and he was connected to that employer through Zip Code Wilmington.
Udemy says it can help you achieve your goals by offering 183,000 online video courses on a vast array of topics.
Coursera offers classes and credentials by partnering with top-tier universities like Penn and Standard and companies like Google and IBM.
On both Coursera and Udemy, many classes are free. Saraf says others range anywhere from about $10 to $50 a course.
Certificates cost as little as a few hundred dollars, and a growing number of colleges give credit for company certificates.
Saraf says, "So if you're, say, an Uber driver or restaurant worker, you could complete the Google IT certificate, get an entry-level job working in it, and then apply that certificate as credit towards a bachelor's degree."
He says you could then finish your bachelor's degree online and get a promotion with even better pay.
It's a concept increasing in popularity called stackable credentials. And this year, universities and private companies formed more than 450 new online learning partnerships.
Saraf says it's a good and necessary innovation because as technology impacts every industry, workers need to continuously learn new skills to adapt.
"The old model of people getting a college degree and then being in one job or company is over," said Saraf. "I think our workforce will need to be constantly, sort of, learning new skills and upskilling themselves rescaling themselves as technology changes. So it might be the case that people don't do a four-year college degree at the beginning of their careers, but instead, spread their education over a number of years as they're working, so they can adapt to what the job market is looking for."
Another option that people sometimes don't think about is becoming an apprentice. Next week is National Registered Apprenticeship Week and many of the events where you can learn about becoming an apprentice are local or virtual.
Families like the Jeffersons are reconsidering traditional education for their four sons.
Julie Jefferson says, "Through Eric's experience, and seeing firsthand the success of it and how much he's growing and learning... I'm like, 'This may be the way to go.'"